Mark Rudan has slammed the door on last season's import players at Wellington, declaring they weren't up to A-League standard and won't be back.
In a bold first statement since being appointed two weeks ago coach, Rudan says he will search far and wide for greater quality in his mix of visa players.
Italian defender Marco Rossi and Serbian midfielder Matija Ljujic had already been released by the club after last season's ninth-placed finish.
Serbian striker Andrija Kaluderovic, who top-scored with nine goals, and Croatian midfielder Goran Paracki have also been farewelled.
"The visa players didn't really impress me. We need to improve - they weren't standouts," Rudan said.
Rudan is hopeful Fijian international Roy Krishna will acquire New Zealand citizenship before the season begins in October, allowing him to choose up to the full complement of five new visa players.
"You get that right and you're halfway there," he said.
"I don't have to use all of them. They've got to be a lot better than what I believe the best local players are in each position."
Eleven players had been retained from last season before former Sydney United coach Rudan agreed to terms with the A-League strugglers.
He must recruit at least 10 more and is somewhat pleased to have a cavernous midfield hole to impose his style after the departure of New Zealand representatives Michael McGlinchey and Matt Ridenton.
"Central corridor - that area of the park is the spine that I want to improve," he said.
"That's a lot of where Wellington got themselves into trouble last year."
Rudan was blunt in assessing other positions too.
He will seek an experienced goalkeeper, believing young Kiwi stoppers Ollie Sail and Keegan Smith are not yet up to A-League level.
Rudan plans to trial some All Whites internationals next week at the team's first pre-season runs but wouldn't reveal their identities.
He introduced a Kiwi flavour on Wednesday by signing former All Whites goalkeeping coach Paul Gothard to the same role at the Phoenix.